Construction Begins On Controversial Electric Substation In East Boston

Photo: Kim Tunnicliffe (WBZ NewsRadio)

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Construction crews have begun work on a controversial new electrical substation being built by Eversource in East Boston.

The substation will be next to Chelsea Creek in the Eagle Hill community. Eversource says the project will address severe electrical capacity constraints that currently exist in Chelsea and East Boston. The substation would convert high-voltage electricity from transmission lines to a lower voltage so it can be distributed into people’s homes.

Opponents to the substation have argued that the facility poses environmental and safety risks to the community due to its location on the flood-prone banks of the creek.

"Flooding could cause an explosion," said John Walkey, Director of Waterfront and Climate Justice Initiatives at GreenRoots, an environmental nonprofit spearheading the charge against the substation. "We have an 8-million gallon tank of jet fuel on the other side of that fence. So you have a fuel source and you have an ignition spot. During Hurricane Sandy in Manhattan, the East River flooded, the Con Edison substation flooded, and that thing exploded spectacularly."

Eversource first proposed the substation in 2014 to the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Sitting Board, who approved it three years later. The sitting board re-approved the project in February 2021, but Eversource still lacked 14 necessary state and local environmental permits to move forward.

On Nov. 29, 2022, the sitting board granted Eversource a special certificate to circumvent the final permits needed for the project. GreenRoots and the Conservation Law Foundation have appealed that decision to the state’s Supreme Judicial Court, but the case has not been heard yet.

WBZ's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports.

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